Meet the Maker: Foothills Honey

Foothills Honey’s beginnings reach back to when its owner and managing director, James Malcolm – a wayward teen at the time – stumbled across hives on the family farm.  He was captivated and the early beginnings of Natural New Zealand Honey Ltd was conceived. 

“Fast forward 15 years, we have a team of 20, 8 seasonal staff, and 9000 beehives!” Laura Malcolm, James’ sister, expressed.

“I have worked for Natural New Zealand Honey since 2015, the Manuka boom was at its peak and the company was rapidly expanding so James asked if I would come home for the summer to implement better office systems and I jumped at the opportunity! My background in mining and forestry made me well equipped for the highs and lows of the honey Industry.”

Foothills Honey works with farmers across Te Waipounamu – some as far as the West Coast, some as close as next door.  Hives are placed on farms where the bees feed and in return, pollinate vegetables and clover, putting vital nitrogen back in the soil.

“Strong, lasting relationships are what makes this happen, without our team, farmers, and contract service providers none of this is possible. Beekeepers keep the bees healthy, healthy bees produce honey which in turn makes a product we can export and sell.”

Foothills Honey produce premium, single sourced Manuka, Rata, Clover, Kamihi, and Honey Dew. A typical day in the office depends on what curve balls are thrown Laura’s way. For the beekeepers, no two seasons are the same. There’s liaising with farmers, checking for bee disease, and collecting honey.

While there are whispers of new, innovative honey products and continued goals of upping best practice across the company, James and Laura run an organisational community that relies on the health and prosperity of nature – the future of the bees is at the centre of it all. And so, they take their role as bee-guardians seriously using sustainable and biodegradable equipment in their hives, their new product range is sold in glass jars as opposed to plastic and they educate their community on safe ways to spray and to plant bee-friendly gardens.

“Sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do, from using sustainable and biodegradable equipment in the beehive to holding an annual river clean-up for our community.” 

The company proudly won the Sustainability Award at the North Canterbury Business Awards in 2021.

For chefs and manufacturers wanting honey as an ingredient, Foothills Honey produce 350 tons of honey per season, are compliant with MPI, EU Accredited, Halal and verified by Asure quality. 

“Bulk honey production, supply and ensuring quality standards, this is what we do best!”

Did you know:  A single bee can only produce roughly one tablespoon of honey in its lifetime and one third of the food we eat is thanks to bee pollination.

Laura’s favourite part about what she does is what the Foothills Honey team calls Api-therapy.

“Being outside with nature, we run hives in some of New Zealand’s most pure and breath-taking scenic areas, all of us have a shared passion for working with and protecting those agricultural champions, the honeybee."